Conflicts Faced by Adult Learners

Topics: Conflict, Educational stages, Organizational conflict Pages: 8 (2687 words) Published: April 29, 2011
Conflict may be defined as a struggle or contest between people with opposing needs, ideas, beliefs, values, or goals. Conflict on teams is inevitable; however, the results of conflict are not predetermined. Conflict might escalate and lead to nonproductive results, or conflict can be beneficially resolved and lead to quality final products. Therefore, learning to manage conflict is integral to a high-performance team. Although very few people go looking for conflict, more often than not, conflict results because of miscommunication between people with regard to their needs, ideas, beliefs, goals, or values. Conflict management is the principle that all conflicts cannot necessarily be resolved, but learning how to manage conflicts can decrease the odds of nonproductive escalation. Conflict management involves acquiring skills related to conflict resolution, self-awareness about conflict modes, conflict communication skills, and establishing a structure for management of conflict in your environment. Unfortunately, the term "conflict" has only the connotation of "bad" for many people; so much so that they think principally in terms of suppression, giving little or no attention to its more positive side. One author emphasizes this by stating: "It seems entirely likely that many, if not most, organizations need more conflict, not less." Other states: "The absence of conflict may indicate autocracy, uniformity, stagnation, and mental fixity; the presence of conflict may be indicative of democracy, diversity, growth, and self-actualization." Some social critics relate the military to the former by their references to the military mind in which they equate absolute and unquestioning obedience with normal military functioning. We are human, though, and it is almost impossible for us to divorce ourselves of feelings, beliefs, and values. We create, or get involved in, conflict, and we possess predispositions as to how it ought to be addressed or handled. We tend to have a strong behavioral leaning, a set pattern, for our participation, and this emerges as a major factor in setting the nature of conflict. We can note this predisposition for a set pattern of behavior in our tendency to want to apply equal penalties or identical punishment regardless of the cause of an infraction of rules. We can say, then, that conflict is a state of unresolved difference between two individuals, an individual and a group, or two groups. The difference can be real or imaginary. Regardless, it is a difference and will cause some form of conflict if the involved parties are in contact with each other. The conflict exists until the difference is resolved. The important aspect is how the individual accepts and responds to it; how he seeks to control or stimulate the dynamic conflict situation. In this age of specialization and sophisticated technology, we can readily find power imbalances in organizations. This often results in conflict. In technically oriented organizations (e.g., military aviation, major communicative networks, and science-based units), the managers rarely are able to be experts in all the disciplines or specialties they control. These managers find themselves greatly dependent on technical experts who work for them. Differences arise because of differing knowledge bases and perceptions. Note the hard feelings and accompanying resentment we often experience when a boss, removed from the situation, picks a piece of correspondence we have prepared. Unmanaged, these differences can have negative results. But this need not be if we carefully select mature and adaptable managers who can understand the high degree of informal (expert) authority held by subordinates who have technical competence. Every individual usually has a number of competing needs, desires and roles within them. Many difficulties in this are beyond the scope of management but within the scope of professional counsellors, though there are some aspects of personal...
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